1 min read.Updated: 13 Oct 2021, 10:37 AM ISTLivemint
Apparel retail sales were down just 1% pan-India in September pointing to a significant recovery in the category. Numbers for categories such as beauty and wellness, apart from footwear and jewellery, however, remain well below pre-pandemic levels
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NEW DELHI: Retailers across the board reported strong recovery in sales in September. Retailers Association of India on Wednesday said retail sales last month touched 96% of pre-pandemic levels--September 2019--as against 88% in August.
This is the closest retail sales have come to pre-pandemic levels over the past year and a half.
Retail businesses across regions are nearing recovery, indicating positive consumer sentiment across the country. In categories, consumer durables and electronics, food and groceries and quick service restaurants (QSR) have managed full recovery and are indicating double digit growth on pre-pandemic levels, it said. Compared to September last year, retailers reported 26% growth in sales last month.
The recovery has largely been led by markets in western and northern India. Sales in southern India were down 7% in September compared to corresponding month in 2019.
The numbers spell positive news for the sector that has had a choppy year marked by intermittent lockdowns. Retailers have had to adjust and adopt to omni-channel way of shopping as well.
Meanwhile, categories such as sports goods and apparel and clothing have also started to see an uptick in demand as occasions to socialise as well as partial resumption of work from office have helped boost demand for such goods. In signs of normalcy returning, consumers have also been spending money on deferred purchases.
Interestingly, sales for apparel retailers were down just 1% pan-India in September pointing to a significant recovery in the category.
However, sales across categories such as beauty and wellness, apart from footwear and jewellery, remain well below pre-pandemic levels.
Compared to a year ago, categories such as sports goods, electronics and jewellery reported a drop in sales. These categories were fuelled by pent-up demand; this was especially true for makers of electronics goods as consumers rushed to stock up on small appliances as they spent longer hours at home. Demand since a year ago seems to have cooled down.
September numbers could point to a “turnaround" for the retail sector this festive season, said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.
“The retail sector has started showing signs of recovery with businesses indicating sales that are almost equal to the pre-pandemic levels. With consumer sentiments looking up, Dussehra and Diwali could well be the turnaround time for retail businesses, provided there is no third wave of the pandemic," he said.
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